Raised in the mid 90’s during a flight as a premier counterinsurgency force, the Rashtriya Rifles quickly became a nightmare for militant organisations, with 8000 militants neutralised and over 6000 captured followed by the relative calm in the valley, the RR’s effectiveness really needs no introduction!
But for those of us who have been living under a rock, today we will be delving deeper into the lethal history and operational responsibility of India’s most fearsome counter-insurgency force, the Rashtriya Rifles!
- The RR Motto “Dridhta aur Virta”:
The Rashtriya Rifles operates under the motto “Dridhta aur Virta” meaning “Strength and Bravery” and with 6 Ashok Chakra’s, 34 Kirti Chakra’s, 221 Shaurya Chakra’s and 1508 Sena Medals awarded within its short history the RR has rightfully lived up to it!
- The Inception Of the Rashtriya Rifles:
The Idea of creating the Rashtriya Rifles was conceived in 1990 when militancy in the valley skyrocketed and the local law enforcement and other paramilitary elements were unable to contain the insurgency.
The then Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh and his Govt gave the project the green light, the RR was created as the countries premier counter-insurgency force initially operational with 36 battalions and by 94 the RR had the manpower of around 5,000 soldiers (from all arms and services) with every member having operational experience in the valley, after some initial setbacks in their composition and organisational structure the army restructured the branch, making every infantry regiment contain at least two Rashtriya Rifles Battalions.
The RR in its initial days deployed to the valley and the specific regions in Punjab during the (Khalistan insurgency), the RR proved to be fiercely effective in both Punjab and the valley and drastically changed the insurgency situation in Punjabi playing a huge part in curbing the Khalistan movement.
By The time the Rashtriya Rifles Celebrated their 8th anniversary they had become the most decorated branch in the entire Indian army with more than 500 gallantry awards under its belt.
After the normalcy in the Punjab region, the Rashtriya Rifles operated solely in Jammu Kashmir and till date is only limited to operations in the valley.
Every unit in the Indian army has a laid out structure which is called the War Establishment (WE) in military lingo, it is through this War Establishment that the number of troops, weapons, supplies, transportation is authorised, The Rashtriya Rifles exceeds the infantry (who also operate in the valley) in terms of manpower and has very specific task cut out for them whereas the infantry has more generalised roles, though both are involved directly in combat operations there structural differences.The RR has an organisation structure tailor-made for CI ops with hardware tailor-made for it.
The Rashtriya Rifles units come under four different “Counter Insurgency Force” (CIF) Headquarters (HQ).
Each Headquarter has a different area of responsibility (AOR) in the valley. There were initially four CIFs, with a fifth Headquarter “Uniform” force raised between 03–04:
- Counter Insurgency Force (CIF) R / Romeo Force – Rajouri and Poonch
- Counter Insurgency Force (CIF) D / Delta Force – Doda
- Counter Insurgency Force (CIF) V / Victor Force – Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Budgam
- Counter Insurgency Force (CIF) K / Kilo Force – Kupwara, Baramulla and Srinagar
- Counter Insurgency Force (CIF) U / Uniform Force – Udhampur and Banihal
- The Rashtriya Rifles is An All Service Arm:
Jawaans, JCO’S and Officers from all arms and services of the army service in the Rashtriya Rifles on a deputation basis with a tenure in the RR being 2-3 years, with the infantry providing half of the of the manpower (50% infantry), the services such as Army Service Corps (ASC), Corps of signals, Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) provide around 10% and other arms provide around 40% of the total strength.
Being an all service arm the Rashtriya Rifles brings a variety of specialist skills to with extremely specific cut out tasks laid out for the troops. This level of individual specialisation gives the Rashtriya Rifles not only highly efficient operational versatility that it possesses but also an aura of uniqueness among the other branches of the organisation.
- Pre-Induction Training:
All soldiers and officers on deputation to RR regardless of arm or service go through a highly specialised pre-induction training at the corps battles school (Sarol & Bhalra), evening out specific skills.
The pre-induction training gives the soldiers coming from different trades in the army time to gel together and understand that they are aboard the same ship.
During the pre-induction training, they are told what to expect how the ground situation is, there is an immense emphasis on camaraderie, physical fitness, weapon handling, marksmanship.
There is specialised training in CQB (Close Quarters Battle), Small unit tactics, urban warfare, room opening/clearing drills etc are honed here.
- The RR Uses The Ever Reliant AK-47:
The Ak-47 is the worlds most sold, reliable and simple to use assault rifles, it’s designed is ingenious and has been battle-tested in every modern conflict across the globe in its 64-year-old lifespan making it the obvious weapon of choice for the Rashtriya Rifles and is the centrepiece of the RR’s insignia.
Since troops on deputation to RR battalions have been exclusively trained on and issued the INSAS 5.556 the army’s primary assault rifle, the soldiers are therefore required to train extensively on the AK-47 until they are proficient with it even their sleep, after all a rifle is a soldier’s best friend, it is an extension of their hand, a part of their body.
- RR Soldiers Train Extensively At The Range:
In a firefight, it’s the one who fires first and fires effectively who comes out alive and in an environment where there are no the second chances the margin for error is zero,
the one defining factor in urban combat is firearm proficiency. The RR expects its soldiers and officers to be nothing less than a marksman with whatever weapon system they are operating with.
To maintain such high standards in a game where these standards define life and death, soldiers train, train, train and then train some more.
Every single RR soldier regardless of role spends at least 2-3 times a week, which is 10-12 times a month honing their firing skills that is much more than regular infantry units train at the range.
There is a constant emphasis on trigger discipline and effective expenditure of ammunition, with the motto “Ek Goli Ek Dushman” (“One shot, One kill”)
- The RR Has An Extremely Deep-Rooted Intelligence Network In The Valley:
Due the nature of the RR and the fact that they are permanently posted in the valley they have developed an extremely effective intelligence collection capabilities incorporating everything from SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) and HUMINT (Human Intelligence), they have highly detailed information about active militant/insurgent/terrorist outfits, suspected militants infiltrators, handlers, sympathisers beyond that they have detailed reports about local population residing in their area of operations/responsibility.
The RR has a large number of local assets and assets inside militant outfits, they obtain intelligence by many conventional and unconventional means from creating mutually beneficial relationships, blending into the population, bribing locals to give up any knowledge of anyone harbouring militants or aiding the insurgent effort.
This detailed knowledge of various militant cadres, their key leaders, networks, middlemen, where they get their supplies from allows them to operate with preemptive knowledge and ruthless precision, demoralising the insurgent groups.
- Acute Knowledge Of The Terrain:
Another advantage of being permanently posted there with a specialised task is that they know the terrain down to the cellular level, the valley is their backyard!
They are the host it is their house and they decide how long one is welcome.
- Operational Experience:
At the end of the day, everything comes down to experience and with that in mind the RR has been designed to do one thing and one thing only ‘Killing Terrorists’ and after 25 years of experience and 21,000 plus militants dead, they’re clearly the best in the business!
Humanitarian and social efforts by the Rashtriya Rifles: On a lighter note the RR has been a proactive member in the cause of uplifting the people of Kashmir, they understand how the people have been caught in the crossfire and have engaged in a multitude of community-oriented activities from routine health care check-ups for the local population, supply of medicines to the region, providing education, coaching for competitive exams, organising sports activities, career guidance seminars so the youth can think for themselves and are not mislead into a life of militancy, they are given opportunities to grow, they are provided with avenues to explore, stay creative, occupied, hone their talents, aspire to a better life, a life where they don’t have to live in fear of armed conflict.
The RR even gives the chance for domestic terrorists surrender to the army and will be eventually rehabilitated to civilian life under the ‘militant rehabilitation policy’!
These humanitarian efforts by the Rashtriya rifles have impacted many lives, helped win local trust and support, risen recruitment of youth into the army from Jammu and Kashmir, with the number being over 180 this year!
The support of the people have helped reduce insurgency in the region and has uncovered so much talent our country would otherwise not gotten to see.
The Rashtriya Rifles over the years have eliminated key figures of various militant outfits and have worked tirelessly to bring normalcy and stability to the valley,
they have done so successfully with the utmost professionalism, however, stability comes at a cost, many good young men with entire lives ahead of them have perished fighting to bring stability to the valley.